What can you do with 600 square feet of run-down, inaccessible industrial space in Queens? The answer is dry, fruity and unconventional. It would also make Johnny Appleseed proud. Descendant Cider, with its nod to traditions of the Old World and roots firmly planted in the New, is a refreshing take the hard apple taste revival.
Alexandria Fisk and Jahil Maplestone, Descendant's two co-founders, like a challenge. The Australian and English husband-and-wife team, who have called New York their home for almost a decade, didn't set out to conquer the cider market. Instead the couple initially began experimenting on a whim from their Cobble Hill apartment. Maplestone, a seasoned home brewer, knows what it takes to make a good American-style IPA or Pale Ale. However it was an attempt to craft something they could both enjoy (Fisk is less of a beer-lover) that turned out to be surprisingly good.
Bolstered by rave reviews from guests after a Super Bowl party, Descendant's future founders entered their small-batch cider into a national competition. The European-style dry cider took the prize. That was the moment five years ago when Fisk and Maplestone realized they "had something," namely their "true passion."
Capitalizing on the experience, business manager Fisk dedicated her capstone project for a Master's at NYU to create a theoretical business plan for launching a craft cider company in New York City. The project led to finding a potential production space on the borders of Queens and East Williamsburg in December 2013. Taking a leap of faith the couple took over the space, applied for a production license and started making New York City's first ever commercial cider.